Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
After more than a year of glossy profiles and sexy photo spreads, the media is once again falling in love with a certain white supremacist dork who’s managed to bilk the press for more free PR than a Kardashian cousin.
We won’t mention his name or show his picture, because we don’t want to contribute to the very problem we’re criticizing, but for god’s sake, please stop giving free press to this man.
CNN dedicated an entire segment to the nazi dork in April. TNT, in its ill-advised discussion on race by Charles Barkley, did so in May. Since the white supremacist attack in Charlottesville two weeks ago, this same idiot has been given coverage in The Hill, Israeli television, ABC News, NPR, and the New York Times which, in a now deleted tweet insisted we “read about an NYT reporter’s conversation with [the white supremacist dork] in this week’s Race/Related newsletter.”
All seemingly in an effort to get their “side” of the story, as if the issue of people’s baseline humanity is a breezy policy difference worthy of debate.
ABC’s Nightline sat a random antifa “representative” down across from the white supremacist dork at a picnic table to hash out their differences. Again, the presumption is that a pro-eugenics, pro-genocide position is somehow on the same moral plane as those who oppose eugenics and genocide, or that there’s something to be gained by talking things out.
This comes after a torrent of Teen Beat-like profiles in the leadup to the 2016 election in Mother Jones, the Washington Post, and the L.A. Times.
What’s the point of all of this? What goes through an editor’s or producer’s head when, in the wake of a neo-Nazi terrorist attack, they reach out to a neo-Nazi for comment? The pathological “both sides”-ism that infects our journalist class is uniquely unsuited for these times. Much like NPR’s institutional refusal to call Trump’s most egregious lies lies or the New York Times‘ desire to contrive goodin Trump’s first 100 days, the desire to seek out white supremacist voices on the subject of white supremacist violence is at best, morally negligent, and at worst, fascist propaganda.
The “debate” ought to be, “What’s the best way to combat these forces?” not “Hmm, what makes neo-Nazis tick?”
A similar phenomenon occurred in the build-up to the war against ISIS, where the media mindlessly replayed ISIS snuff videos on loop for over two years, serving as a primary distributor of its propaganda. In a rush to rack up sensationalist clicks, no one in these media organizations stopped to ask what part they played in ISIS recruiting efforts. The following of radical imam Anjem Choudary doubled in less than four months after he was featured nonstop on print and cable media.
Just the same, the white supremacist dork’s follower count on Twitter has gone from under 6,000 to 73,000 in the year and a half since the mainstream media decided to make him the poster child for sexy, bad boy hatemongering.
This isn’t to say white supremacists should be ignored. It’s important the media highlight their scope and growth and the danger they pose. What isn’t needed, however, are glossy, sympathetic profiles of their self-appointed leader or to treat them as simply one side of an ongoing debate in urgent need of media parity.